Terrell Farley’s football career began as a little leaguer in Columbus, GA. He started out playing quarterback and running back, but when he got into junior high he stuck with defense. Football ran in his family, as he had a brother who played at Troy State and another at Georgia Southern.
A gifted track athlete at Kendrick High School, Farley was on the state championship 4 x 100-meter relay teams as a junior and senior, a gold medalist in the 4 x 300 relay as a junior and the state 400-meter champion as a senior.
Farley brought outstanding speed to the football field in high school. As a stand-up defensive end, he was the defensive player of the year and a first-team all-stater.
So it was no surprise that Florida, Clemson, and other SEC and ACC schools recruited him. Unfortunately, he didn’t qualify academically and had to go the junior college route.
“I improved my game pretty quickly from high school to junior college,” Farley said. “Kansas has one of the best junior college leagues in the country, so there was a lot of competition. In junior college I was 6-foot-1, around 195 pounds, with a 4.35 (hand-held) time in the 40. I played outside linebacker in junior college.”
In his second and final year at Independence College, Farley was the Jayhawk League Linebacker of the Year after amassing 116 tackles, 12 sacks and 15 blocked kicks (nine punts, six field goals).
Again, colleges started to line up for his services, but Farley quickly put an end to the recruiting process, as only one team stood out to him.
“When I was in junior college in the Midwest, I always watched them (Nebraska) on TV. They were really good,” Farley said. “Coach Turner Gill came to see me and I liked him from the get-go. Nebraska was really my first choice. When they came and recruited me, I stopped the (recruiting) process and chose them. If I didn’t go to Nebraska, I would have probably gone to Texas A&M or Arizona.”
Farley was exactly what the Huskers were looking for in a speed linebacker. Former NU Defensive Coordinator Charlie McBride said he fit their linebacker mold.
“We were not afraid to recruit him, even though he was a little undersized for most linebackers," said McBride. "But our philosophy was speed and quickness, and he fit that perfectly for our WILL linebacker position. When we changed our defense, we went to the speed backer. We didn’t worry about if they were 230 or 240 pounds. Some linebackers are blue-collar, ground-level grunts, but to me, Terrell was a high-wire flyer.”
“Coach McBride told me that he wanted me to hit somebody first before I would get to play. I was making plays, but he wanted to see me get that pop in on somebody. Instead of making full contact, I would run around and make the play. I didn’t really like making contact at first, especially against certain bigger players,” Farley said.
Farley got an A+ for what he did his first season at NU. To come in your first year from junior college and immediately impact a defense and a team that just won the national championship the year before means that you are a special player.
He led the team in 1995 in tackles (62), interceptions (three) and blocked kicks (two), and was second in sacks (5), setting the tone for a hard-hitting, playmaking style of Black Shirt defense that ran over every opponent in its path en route for a second straight national championship.
Farley was a second-team All-American (UPI, AP), first-team All-Big Eight (AP) and Defensive Newcomer of the Year (AP, Coaches).
Not bad for a junior college player playing his first year, not only for a national championship team, but probably the best team in college football history.
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Shane Gilster is the Editor of Big Red Report Magazine. His stories focus mainly on catching up with former Huskers and examining Nebraska athletic history.